Posts tagged "USA"

One Woman, 100 Marathons, 200 Food Banks

I set a goal to road-trip across the country, running a marathon in all 50 states (I’d later up it to 100 marathons), volunteering at each of the 200 Feeding America food banks, and visiting friends and family as I went.

I set out in July 2014. I ran my 100th marathon last month and volunteered at my 200th food bank on April 11. Am I done? Not even close. Not while there are millions of hungry Americans. Not when there is more that I — that we all — can do.

A Randomly-Selected USA Congress

Sortition has all the benefits of campaign finance reform, and then some. For starters, the great Sortition Amendment will be much simpler and easier to understand than whatever nightmarishly complicated reform scheme it would take to make elections viable. Legislators will be chosen by lot from the entire adult population. Boom, no more campaign spending: the $1,771,368,063 that went into Congressional campaigns last year can now be donated instead to scientific research and children’s hospitals and dirigible-based public transport systems and other such useful things. Without reelection campaigns hanging over legislator’s heads, nobody can be honeyed or coerced into advancing particular legislative agendas, except by the kind of quid pro quo, “here’s a nice sack of cash” methods that are more easily punishable as corruption. Interest groups will still lobby to persuade legislators, of course, but they won’t be able to influence their nomination or the length of their tenure.

Will the Sortition Congress actually be good at making laws? Who knows. Will they be worse at making laws than the Congress we have now? Is that even possible?


Postal Banking for USA

Under Gillibrand’s proposal, Americans could cash paychecks and deposit money in accounts free of charge at each post office location. Deposits would be capped at the larger of two amounts ― $20,000, or the median balance in all American bank accounts.

The postal banks would be able to distribute loans to borrowers of up to $1,000 at an interest rate slightly higher than the yield on one-month Treasury bonds, currently about 2 percent.

A postal banking system would be an alternative to the for-profit payday lending system, in which people routinely pay triple-digit fees to borrow money for bills that come due before their next paycheck. The average payday loan of $375 typically costs a borrower an additional $520 in interest and fees, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

More than one-quarter of Americans households (34 million homes) are either “unbanked” ― meaning they lack someone with a bank account altogether ― or “underbanked” ― relying on payday loans or other so-called alternative lenders to supplement the services of a traditional bank.

Their predicament shows how expensive it is to be poor in America. The average underbanked household has an annual income of $25,500, and spends nearly 10 percent on alternative financial products and associated fees, according to a 2011 KPMG study.

Meanwhile, France’s Banque Postale moves to expand its services in 2019:

French state-owned Banque Postale, part of the French postal service, said on Tuesday it would launch its online bank “Ma French Bank” in spring 2019.
Header Photo by Tim Evans on Unsplash

People’s Socialist Atlas: A History of the United American Socialist Republics

A thought-provoking feat of world-building.

By (apparently) Rebecca Stirling and Richard Collins? Someone get them a proofreader and publisher, STAT.

Predecessors: there hasn’t been much discussion (in detail) of a fictional socialist USA. It’s played for amusement in “Back in the USSA” by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman, where much of USSR history is mapped onto the USA.

Terry Bisson’s Fire On The Mountain utilizes precedents of anti-racist activism in the USA to portray a successful slave rebellion in the American south, changing the political landscape forever.

So it’s welcome to see a new spin. Check it out, Comrades.  The UASR’s own internal struggle has lasting impact on the globe as well: no ‘manifest destiny’, no Monroe Doctrine.
As PDF via Dropbox [link]
Reddit discussion on worldbuilding project:

Alternate History Forum Discussion:
Thanks, Metafilter!

“Housing First” – a new approach for addressing long-term homelessness

“How Finland tackled homelessness and why Birmingham might be following in their footsteps”

A revolutionary new scheme under which rough sleepers are given a home straight away could be officially piloted here in Birmingham (UK) after showing success abroad.
The “Housing First” principle gives rough sleepers a permanent stable home and address rather than move them through various shelters, hostels and supported accommodation.
It has proved such a success in the USA, Finland and several other countries that the Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid is looking to pilot the scheme here – and the West Midlands is making a bid to be that test bed.